If you want to ensure you have a say as far as who is going to receive your assets after your passing, it is essential that you create a will. Otherwise, you relinquish control over your own belongings, and the duty of distributing them falls into the hands of the state.
If you die without a will, the decision of who will ultimately inherit your estate depends on several factors. Generally, if you die intestate, the state will look to see, first, whether you have close relatives, and if so, they may assume control over your assets. The Colorado Probate Code outlines the rules of succession.
Dying with a surviving spouse, descendant or parent
If you pass on before your spouse, and your children are also your spouse’s children, your husband or wife will assume complete control over your probate estate. This is also the case if you die married but without having any children. If your surviving spouse has other children, or if you have other children who are not biologically your spouse’s, things get a bit more complicated, and the rules vary based on factors such as whether your children are legal adults, among other considerations. If you are married and pass away and have no children but you have surviving parents, your estate typically gets divided between your spouse and your parent or parents.
Should you die without a will and have children but no spouse, your children will assume control over your estate. Similarly, if you have surviving parents but no spouse or children, your parents will gain control over your assets.
Dying without a surviving spouse, descendant or parent
If you pass away without a will and do not have a spouse, surviving parents or any children, the next person in line would typically be a brother or sister. If you do not have either, any children of your deceased brothers or sisters would presumably assume control of your estate. In the unlikely scenario that no one in your family fits these parameters, your estate will fall under the control of the state of Colorado.
If you wish to have the final say in the distribution of your assets after your passing, it is critical that you create a will.